Up to this point, I’d never heard of Finnish band Sisare so, sitting down in front of the stereo and pressing play, I was greeted with a very gentle start. Folksy clean guitar mixed with soothing vocals led me to start thinking this would be a light hearted retro-progressive romp. Little did I suspect that lurking behind a soft and fluffy start was what turned out to be a very powerful album.
RETRO PROG MIXED WITH CLASSIC RIFFS
The low key start of “Escape” highlights the quality of Severi’s vocal and the track really starts to live up to its name, building and building over the course of 6 minutes to some great old skool 70’s style riffs and some ripping guitar solos, which makes it feel that the band are really letting loose. It’s traditional sounding, but the sheer joy that the band exude during these parts gives it a real sense of power. This track immediately had me playing air guitar along with it!
As we move through the album, Leaving the Land starts to sound a little more modern. “Mountains”, for example, is laced with vibes of atmospheric post-rock. It soon develops into another solid progressive track, with some gentle 7/4 grooves and another ripping fuzz-based wah solo.
Since Severi is both the vocalist and the lead guitarist, there is as much focus on the vocal duties as the sweet, sweet melodic guitar solos during songs. For some bands, this could get a little tired, but Sirare really make it work. The band leave a lot of space to support each solo, and the guitar playing moves from melodic, to fuzz shredding, and back again effortlessly. It also helps that the production is warm and clean, with every note clearly heard in the mix and no huge compression compensation, so the band shines.
In the middle of the third of the six tracks on the album, “Geno”, I suddenly realized who this band sounded similar to – modern day Opeth! From the folksy guitars, retro-fuzz soundscapes and educated drumming to the vocal style, this track in particular evokes the sound and feel of Heritage. In the middle of “Geno”, there is another nice understated guitar solo, reminiscent of early Pink Floyd. I would have liked for this element to have gone on for a few more minutes in this fashion before moving on.
A BAND WORKING TOGETHER AS A WHOLE
The musicianship on the album is top notch and I’m not talking about high-octane showing off. Their command of their instruments, especially in terms of dynamics, shows that they know what they are doing and they prove it with ease. A special mention must go to Hermanni Pilitti on bass, who is seriously great on the fretboard and has a super fruity sound reminiscent of Rush and Yes at times. His bass really shines on “Pace”, providing a solid groove that is really high in the mix and fantastically fruity. This works brilliantly as a base against the arpeggios from the guitar, especially in the heavier sections where they really hit those stomp boxes and riff away!
Pilitti is featured prominently towards the end of “Shattered” with a great bass solo. It is gentle, melodic and merges perfectly into a super-fuzz guitar solo. This bass highlight is a rare treat for the listener.
A GREAT ADDITION TO THE GENRE
Sisare are a four piece, and interestingly for this style of music, they don’t feature a keyboard player. As a band, they cleverly make up for this with plenty of textural dual guitar moments and wall-of-sound like fuzz sections in songs like “Shattered”. I never felt once that they needed that extra sonic dimension.
Every one of the 6 tracks on this album clocks in at over 6 minutes, and features complex arrangements and plenty of twists and turns. This does mean that no single track will become an earworm that you’ll sing along to when the album is over, but the quality of the musicianship, writing and production will have you coming back to the album again and again. This is one of those deep-listen albums that I found something new to discover with every play through. Although it doesn’t bring anything new or startling to the party, it’s a solid release that I’m happy I discovered.
This album will be exactly what you’re looking for if you’ve finally got over throwing the toys out of your pram about Opeth’s recent retro-prog direction and enjoy albums like Heritage and Sorceress.
Will this be on my Albums of the Year 2018 list in 12 months time? A distinct possibility, so check back in December to find out!
Notable Tracks: “Geno”; “Pace”; “Shattered”
FFO: Late Opeth, Pink Floyd, Marillion, Ayreon, Horisont